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Aneurysm: What are the types?

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An aneurysm develops if part of an artery wall becomes weak which allows it to abnormally widen or balloon out.

Close look on the common types of aneurysms

Abdominal aortic aneurysm

This type of aneurysm develops if the aorta which supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs becomes unusually large or balloons outward. This aneurysm often forms among men over 60 years of age who have at least one or several risk factors including a family history, emphysema, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking and obesity.

If the aneurysm ruptures, it is considered as a medical emergency and only around 20% of cases survive. Call for emergency assistance if there is significant pain in the back or belly that does not settle.

If the aneurysm ruptures, it is considered as a medical emergency and only around 20% of cases survive.

Cerebral aneurysm

A cerebral aneurysm only affects around 5% of the population which occurs once the wall of the blood vessel in the brain weakens and protrudes or balloons out.

The most common is the “berry” aneurysm which is prevalent among adults. It can range from a few millimeters to more than a centimeter. Having a family history of several berry aneurysms can increase the risk.

Ailments that damage or weaken the blood vessel including atherosclerosis, infection or trauma can also cause the aneurysms. Other potential risk factors include certain medical conditions such as endocarditis, polycystic kidney disease and narrowing of the aorta.

This type of aneurysm might not have any symptoms but if they arise, it usually includes:

  • Double vision
  • Severe headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Vision loss
  • Neck pain
  • Eye pain

If it has ruptured, it is a medical emergency that requires prompt medical attention.

Thoracic aortic

This form of aneurysm is characterized by unusual bulging or ballooning of a part of the aorta as it passes via the chest. Atherosclerosis is the usual cause but other risk factors include:

  • Aorta inflammation
  • Aging
  • Injury from trauma or falls
  • Genetic conditions such as Marfan syndrome
  • Syphilis

An individual with an aneurysm will not have any symptoms until it starts to leak blood into the adjacent tissues or grows.

Indications of this type of aneurysm include the following:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Clammy skin
  • High-pitched breathing
  • Swollen neck
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Upper back or chest pain
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sense of impending doom

If the aneurysm has ruptured, it is vital to call for emergency assistance right away.

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